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Court backs France over terrorist’s 1995 Paris attack conviction

Human rights judges have backed French authorities legal treatment of Rachid Ramda, convicted of involvement in terrorist attacks in Paris in 1995.

In today’s Chamber judgment1 in the case of Ramda v. France (application no. 78477/11) the European Court of Human Rights held, by a majority, that there had been:

no violation of Article 6 § 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights,


no violation of Article 4 of Protocol No. 7.

The case concerned the reasoning of the judgment convicting the applicant delivered by an Assize Court composed exclusively of professional judges and compliance with the ne bis in idem principle in the case of a final conviction by the ordinary criminal courts followed by a criminal conviction by the Assize Court.

The applicant, Rachid Ramda, is an Algerian national who was born in 1969. He is currently detained in Lannemezan Prison.

In 1995, eight terrorist attacks were carried out in France, in particular in Paris, near the Maison Blanche metro station, at the Gare d’Orsay and at the Saint-Michel RER station.

Although there was no explicit claim of responsibility for the attacks, some factors, such as the existence of virulent statements against France and the mode of operation, pointed to the involvement of the Groupement Islamique Armé (GIA).

In the framework of a judicial investigation geared to identifying the perpetrators, phone tapping was carried out in various phone boxes, leading to the arrest of several persons.

The trail eventually led to the applicant. The latter, who is a member of the Front Islamique du Salut, had left Algeria to settle in London, where he was suspected of being a GIA leader in the United Kingdom, particularly owing to his involvement in the Al Ansar periodical which the GIA used as an information outlet abroad.

The applicant was the subject of three international arrest warrants, for the attack carried out on 6 October 1995 near the Maison Blanche metro station, the 17 October 1995 attack at the Gare d’Orsay and the 25 July 1995 attack at the Saint-Michel RER station, respectively.

On 1 December 2005 he was handed over to the French authorities, who remanded him in custody.

Proceedings in the ordinary criminal courts – By judgment of 29 March 2006, which included over thirty pages of reasoning, the Paris Criminal Court found the applicant guilty of criminal association in the framework of a terrorist conspiracy, and sentenced him to ten years’ imprisonment, banning him from French territory for life.

The European court found that the applicant in the present case had benefited from sufficient safeguards to enable him to understand his conviction by the special bench of the Assize Court of Appeal, considering that in view of the combined consideration of the three closely reasoned committal orders, the debates during the hearings of the applicant, as well as the many detailed questions put to the Assize Court, he could not claim not to know the reasons for his conviction (Article 6 § 1 of the Convention).

Furthermore, the court concluded that the applicant had not been prosecuted or convicted in the framework of the criminal proceedings for facts which had been substantially the same as those of which he had been finally convicted under the prior summary proceedings (Article 4 of Protocol No. 7).

The court reiterated that it was legitimate for the Contracting States to take a firm stance against persons involved in terrorist acts, which it could in no way condone, and that the crimes of complicity in murder and attempted murder of which the applicant had been convicted amounted to serious violations of the fundamental rights under Article 2 of the convention.


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